Assembly Committee Calls Power Plant Debate

The National Assembly’s permanent committee has called lawmakers back into session after a month away to debate a new potential coal-fueled power plant on May 8.

The National Assembly last met April 8, when leaders agreed to not reconvene until after July’s election.

Lawmakers are now to debate a payment agreement with Power Synergy Cooperation Co Ltd, a Malaysian investment firm that plans to build a $390-million, 200-megawatt coal power plant in Sihanoukville.

But discussions are slated to end there, despite an attempt by the SRP to use the resuscitated Assembly session to push an opposition-drafted minimum wage law.

SRP lawmaker and permanent committee member Son Chhay wrote to Assembly President Heng Samrin on Wednesday to request that next week’s session include time to debate the draft law. If approved, the proposed legislation, which had 10 SRP signatories, would have boosted the minimum wage for factory workers, civil servants, and security forces to $75 per month, a significant increase on the current $56 minimum earned by garment workers.

“The economic growth and national revenues that our country has received are enough to raise the minimum wage for the workers, civil servants and soldiers that are working actively to contribute [to] the current economic growth,” Son Chhay wrote.

But Wednesday, the permanent committee denied the SRP request, citing a lack of support. Assembly members need at least 42 backers to propose a draft law, CPP lawmaker and permanent committee member Cheam Yeap said.

“I want to demand $300 for wages—even higher than Son Chhay—but the government’s ability is limited,” he said. “We also love the workers and the country.”

The decision disappointed the SRP, Son Chhay said by telephone: Approving the law “would help the crisis that we are facing right now.”

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